The BLC Blog

A forum and learning place for British Language Centre students

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sweet Dreams

Sometimes when we are asleep we see images playing like a movie in our heads. These are called dreams. If we are lucky these dreams will be sweet and make us happy. Unfortunately though at some point in our lives we all have a few nightmares!

I don't know about you, but I find dreams fascinating! I have a dictionary for dream interpretation. If you are interested in finding out what your dreams may symbolise you should check out this website!

Today though I would like to focus on the dreams that we have when we are awake! Our dreams and ambitions for the future or our hopes and wishes for things to change in our lives.

When we talk about things that we would like to be different in our current situation we can use two different constructions; IF ONLY and I WISH followed by the past simple (or sometimes a past continuous).

If only I could speak fluent Italian!
I wish I were rich and famous!
If only I had my own business!
I wish it wasn't raining!
If only I didn't have to get up early every day!
I wish I could drive!

For more about this you should check out our earlier posts on wishes by putting 'wish' in the search bar for this blog.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


This week's word got me thinking about the topic of sleeping. I find it strange that we have so many ways of saying 'have a siesta' in English when as people we don't often take advantage of a short sleep in the afternoon.

Although 'siesta' is an accepted word in English, I thought that it would be a nice idea to look at some more native ways of expressing this idea.

You may hear people talking about wanting to have / take a nap in the afternoon, especially when they get home from work.

My grandparents always have a nap after lunch.

Similarly some people say that they are going to have a kip. If you hear them saying that they need to get some kip, they are probably very tired and haven't been sleeping well recently.

I must get some kip, I can't go on like this, I'm tired all the time!

Another expression is to 'have/get forty winks':

I usually have forty winks after work before I start making the dinner.
In American English you sometimes hear people saying that they want or need to catch some zzz (zees). This expression comes from the idea that when we draw somebody sleeping we often put some z z z to show that they are snoozing / sleeping.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Word of the Week - 20

This week's word is a phrasal verb. It is an informal way to say that somebody is beginning to sleep unintentionally. You can imagine how the verb was formed because the literal meaning of nod is to move your head up and down in agreement, and sometimes when we start falling asleep on the bus or metro our heads move down quickly.

When I've finished lunch I usually sit on the sofa and watch a bit of telly, but I nearly always nod off!

Why don't you go to bed, John? You keep nodding off!

Labels: ,

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Nerd Pride Day

According to Wikipedia this day originated in Spain in 2006 under the name 'dia del orgullo friki'. The 25th of May was chosen to celebrate the premiere of the first Star Wars movie in 1977. It is a day for all nerds and geeks who do not feel ashamed of showing their unconventional interests in public. So if you consider yourself to be a nerd, enjoy your special day! If you are not sure whether or not you are a nerd, do this nerdy test and find out!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

English Exams

In three weeks some of you will be sitting an exam in English, either the Cambridge First Certificate, the Advanced or the Proficiency. Hopefully, you will pass this exam with flying colours! (If you fail it though, you can always resit it at a later date). However, I hope that everyone is successful and to help you study and revise for these upcoming exams I have found a few links to websites that can help with exam preparation.

Cambridge ESOL > > > (This is the official site for the Cambridge exams where you can find out general information about the exams and what is expected of you and you can download practice papers.)

Flo-Joe > > > (This website contains advice and practice for all parts and levels of the Cambridge Exams. A lot of the site is free of charge but if you want to have full access you will have to pay a subscription fee.)

Splendid Speaking > > > (This website aims to help you with Paper 5, the oral test. It contains useful phrases and vocabulary, tips and podcasts of people doing speaking tasks with tapescripts and comments.)

Fullspate > > > (This site has some tips and set phrases to help you improve your writing in Paper 2 of the FCE and the CPE, although it is also worth a look if you are doing the CAE.)

Hope this helps! Happy studying and lots of luck in June!

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, May 19, 2008

Word of the Week - 19

Today's word is a verb which has many meanings.

The first meaning is to kill something by stopping air from getting to it.

I smothered the chip-pan fire with a damp cloth.

John tried to smother his sister with a cushion. Luckily, John's mother caught him and managed to save her daughter!

Another meaning is to prevent something / somebody from developing and growing freely.

Sometimes I feel smothered by my boyfriend, he is too possessive and won't let me do my own thing.

The latest bomb attack has smothered any chances of peace talks.

Finally this verb can be used to say that something is completely covered in another substance or object.

I love eating a big bowl of strawberries smothered in cream!

Whenever I see my aunty she always smothers me with kisses!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Idioms with bread

To continue the theme of sandwiches this week I thought we could look at some set idiomatic expressions using bread or loaves.
My teachers at school used to be quite impatient and if they thought we should know the answer to something they always shouted 'Use your loaf!' This meant that we should think more carefully. The expression originates from the cockney slang loaf of bread meaning head.
Another expression using bread is 'the best thing since sliced bread'. If you think somebody or something is absolutely fantastic you can say that he / she / it is the best thing since sliced bread. I hope you think this blog is the best thing since sliced bread!
If you here somebody saying that something is their bread and butter, they are talking about what they do to make a living and survive. Teaching English is my bread and butter. What's yours?
Finally, do you know what side your bread is buttered on? You should do because you can have problems in life if not. You always need to know what is advantegeous for you and who you need to look after in life to get places!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

British Sandwich Week

This is a week for celebrating the British sandwich, one of the most popular meals in the country. Sandwiches are becoming more and more interesting and tasty with a huge range of fillings and lots of different types of bread. What do you prefer to make your sandwich with? Perhaps a baguette, or a fruit teacake, or a bap, or sliced bread, or pitta, or ciabatta or a bagel? And what do you like to sandwich between the bread? Leave me a comment and share your fave sarnie fillings!
To find out more about the history of the sandwich go to this site. Alternatively, for lots of sandwich facts and a list of the top 20 fillings, go here.

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 12, 2008

Word of the Week - 18

This week's word is a noun, it is used in informal English to mean sandwich. You may wonder why on earth I have chosen this word this week, but don't fear you will find out shortly!

There's nothing I love better than a crispy bacon sarnie on a morning!

I always take a couple of sarnies to work with me in case I get a bit peckish during the day.

If you have ever been to the north of England or if your teacher is from the north of England you may have heard of butties. Butty is another informal word for sandwich. Next time you are in the North you should ask for a chip butty from the fish shop. Yum yum!

Labels: ,

Friday, May 9, 2008

Similes with LIKE + a NOUN PHRASE (1)

By request here is a list of some similes that are made up of (a verb) and then like followed by a noun phrase. Today we will concentrate on ones related to animals.

We told John to be careful when he was decorating the living room, but he's like a bull in a china shop so unsurprisingly things got broken.

I don't know where John had been or what he'd been doing but I swear when he walked through the door he looked like something the cat dragged in.

I've been running around like a headless chicken all day, I haven't had a moment to sit down and relax.

When Nancy first moved to Spain she felt like a fish out of water, but she soon got used to the Spanish way of life.

When Kelly won the award for employee of the year she sat in front of us all grinning like the cat that got the cream. I was so jealous!

If Jamie doesn't get a good night's sleep, he's like a bear with a sore head for the rest of the day!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What's the Difference? - 2


These words are often confused by speakers of Spanish because in some cases the translation into Spanish for both words is 'perder'.

One of the main meanings of the word miss is to arrive too late for a planned event or a form of public transport.

I missed my plane because the traffic was so bad on the motorway I couldn't get to the airport in time. (N.B. You do not lose the bus!)

I missed my first class because my alarm clock didn't go off and I slept in.

One of the main meanings of the word lose is to no longer possess something because you do not know where it is.

I'm always losing my car keys, I can never find them when I need them!

250 people lost their jobs when the factory closed down.

There are of course more meanings for these words so you should look them up in the dictionary.

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 5, 2008

Word of the Week - 17

This is an adjective which has two main uses. The first is to describe something which is difficult to fight against and is commonly collocated with the nouns urge, need and desire. The second use is to describe something that is very great or very large.

Often and for no particular reason, I suddenly feel an overwhelming urge to laugh. It's quite embarrassing when it happens in public!

We have an overwhelming number of signatures on our petition against the new nuclear power plant.

Labels: ,